Madonna and Sean Penn take a romantic honeymoon for their doomed marriage by filming a doomed movie. Imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark without any adventure and Romancing the Stone without any romance.
Now if one can come up with the plot thesis of this one, I'll give them a trophy. None of it makes a lick of sense. Character's motivations are dubious. Everyone's end game is devoid of existence. The best hypothesis we could make about this films plot doesn't work by the film's own rules. It's unfathomable.
Sean Penn and Madonna were a good match. They both stink at acting. It's obvious that Madonna is terrible but hey guess what! Academy Award winning actor Sean Penn stinks just as bad. Don't misjudge me, that Mystic River is damn fine, but how this guy got a role after Shanghai Surprise is...well...a surprise.
It's supremely offensive with arguably the worst sex scene that's ever happened. How you ask? Well it's double rape, plus sex bribery followed by love because of said rape and sex bribery. What? Holy crap that's offensive. Blech.
Lots of wandering around, talking to various people for no reason and a lack of any adventure make this one a do not.
Over the top action:
Good Movie Quality:
Bad Movie Quality:
Though the famed Urban Dictionary gives various sexual situations, which are mostly not funny as the definition of Shanghai Surprise, it apparently came into original English slang as a term describing the bombs used by the Chinese street gangs, or tong as they referred to themselves. Fittingly this film is one of the industries greatest disappointments as the star vehicle for the hottest newlyweds of all time, by industry opinion, couldn’t possibly lose 14 of it’s 17 million dollar budget. It did, and the film is full of other bombs as it will get nominated for 6 Razzies, sadly only winning for worst actress (Madonna).
The most dubious part of this film’s history is being produced by Handmade Films. For those unfamiliar with the label, it was George Harrison’s film division. When Harrison died in 2001 the Rolling Stone issue, which was double stuffed and entirely focused on Harrison, confirmed my suspicion that he was indeed the greatest Beatle. According to all accounts he was the kindest man, always showing up with gifts. He even forgave friend Eric Clapton for stealing his wife. It is doubtful that Harrison wanted to get into movie making as seriously as he ended up. It started when production for The Life of Brian ran out of money. Harrison would mortgage his house to cover the rest of the project, which became financially successful. He would do favor productions of Sense of Freedom and The Long Good Friday before friend Terry Gilliam would approach him with the script for Time Bandits. At this point Harrison realized he was a movie producer and Time Bandits would be the first of over 30 films produced by the label. Harrison himself would produce 29 films before passing in 2001, the last of which was putting a flyer out on a little known director named Guy Ritchie for his film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The label would produce several pictures after Harrisons death, the last of which being 127 Hours.
The previously aforementioned nicest man ever was quoted as saying that Sean Penn was “A pain in the ass”. Good job Sean Penn, this begs the question to what Jesus would do with you if Harrison can’t handle your shit. I suppose it is a good thing Penn didn’t live in biblical times, in the gospel of Paul there may have been, besides tale of ultimate lenience, kindness and understanding, the time that Sean Penn came to dinner, and then, Jesus did shit get real…